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Blues go down fighting in Game Three epic

The Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues were unable to overcome a courageous Queensland, losing 22-12 in an Origin battle for the ages at Suncorp Stadium.

Coach Brad Fittler and his players were trying to win Game Three and claim an Origin series win before a hostile Maroons crowd for the first time since 2005.

But an undermanned Queensland side with two players sidelined with concussion in the opening minutes, proved too much of a handful scoring four tries to two.

“It’s pretty disappointing – we came up here knowing Queensland were going to be tough and we just didn’t combat it well enough in that second half,” NSW No.7 Nathan Cleary said.

“It sucks but we’ve just got to take it.”

One of the bright spots for the Blues was Newcastle’s Jacob Saifiti following in the footsteps of Matt Burton in Game Two, by scoring a try on debut.

He crossed in the 31st minute to give the Blues the lead for the first time in the match. The 26-year-old also racked up 137 metres from 13 runs in just 38 minutes.

NSW held a slim 12-10 lead at halftime, the difference being a Cleary conversion.

The match started in high drama with three players forced from the field for head assessments in the opening three minutes, including NSW back-rower Cameron Murray.

He was concussed in a regulation tackle on Queensland winger Corey Oates with the game only 63 seconds old. Maroons winger Selwyn Cobbo and prop Lindsay Collins also did not return from their HIAs.

The second half also started explosively with centres Dane Gagai and Matt Burton both sent to the sin-bin for punching, after the Queenslander was ruled to have pushed Burton in the back. It was just the 41st minute and both states were reduced to 12 men, but neither was able to score any points.

The first half brought two tries for each state with the Blues’ four-pointers coming from Luai in the 18th minute off a Cleary kick, then Saifiti’s piece of personal Origin history just eight minutes after he came on for Junior Paulo.

Saifiti was named at No.8 but coach Brad Fittler opted to start the Samoan international in Paulo for his ninth Origin match.

Saifiti bowled over two Maroons defenders in his first touch, so it was no surprise to see him receive a short pass from hooker Api Koroisau and barge over the white line.

Queensland took back the lead at 16-12 midway through the second half after a Kalyn Ponga try, and cemented the win when Ben Hunt charged down a Cleary chip to race away in the 78th minute.

Standouts in a beaten side were fullback James Tedesco once again, with 29 runs for 285 metres including 104 kick-return metres, and wingers Daniel Tupou (17 runs for 145 metres) and Brian To’o (20 runs for 136 metres).

Tedesco and Tupou also pulled off a couple of try-saving tackles, while forwards Jake Trbojevic (44) and Isaah Yeo (42) topped the tackle count.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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